The Telegraph's '26 best jazz films' list

Thelonious Monk (Jazz on a Summer's Day)

A definitive list of jazz on the silver screen from Hollywood favourites to biopics old and new, with stella musician casts.

The Telegraph has published a list of ‘The 26 best jazz films’.

Trumpeter Louis Armstrong makes several appearances in the list for his acting roles including a cameo in ‘Cabin In The Sky’ from 1943 with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Stachmo also appears in ‘High Society’ on the list from 1956, a film with superb Cole Porter compositions.

‘The Benny Goodman Story,’ also from 1956 makes the list too and features many great jazz stars including Kid Ory, Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton. Pianist and band leader Fletcher Henderson is portrayed by Sammy Davis Sr., father of Sammy Davis Jr.

Also named is the documentary film on the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival ‘Jazz On A Summer’s Day capturing perfomances by Thelonious Monk, Sonny Stitt, Dinah Washington, Gerry Mulligan, Louis Armstrong and more. The festival, one of America’s biggest, continues to this day.

Nat King Cole plays ‘Father of the Blues’ WC Handy in 1958’s ’St Louis Blues’ (named after the song). The biopic also features band leader Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

Also noted are new offerings including singer, rapper, actress and talk show host Queen Latifah’s portayal of trail blazing blues singer Bessie Smith for an HBO special this year called ‘Bessie’ and the new Netflix documentary ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’ about the life and music of the Nina Simone.

See the full list of films and more at here

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